by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11, NIV).

Do you ever feel like life has dealt you a losing hand? Do you ever get frustrated because it seems like the garbage of life just keeps piling up on you? I know I do. I have several reasons for feeling this way, some are valid and some are not. But when I let this kind of thinking overpower me I start to develop a negative attitude. When I get this way I try to remember that someone else always has it worse. Not to be depressed, but to remind myself, things could certainly be worse than they are. I also ask myself this question, and I invite you to do the same, “Have I really learned to trust the Lord and be content in all circumstances?”

Paul, the very man who wrote our verse today, suffered some terrible things in his life. He was shipwrecked and stranded out at sea not once, not twice, but three times. He was beaten and whipped several times for his faith. He had a “thorn in his side” (most likely some sort of physical ailment) that he repeatedly prayed to have taken from him. God said, “No. My grace is sufficient.” He was imprisoned for his faith, I mean the guy had it rough. Despite all of that, he was able to pen the words of our verse.

His words bring me both encouragement and conviction. Paul learned to be content regardless of his trials and tribulations. In comparison to Paul, most of my troubles seem insignificant. This is not to minimize our suffering. We live in a fallen world and we will have times, some even a lifetime, of struggles. But when they surface we need to pray and ask the Lord to restore our trust that God will help us learn to be content in any and all circumstances.

It may not seem like it, it may take a long time and many prayers, but when we pray about our problems and struggles we will eventually start to get a fresh perspective once again of God's power at work in our lives. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead can transform us so that we remain joyful and grateful no matter what life throws at us.

1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain...” (ESV).

Dear Lord, I pray right now that we would all be reminded to trust you and be content in any and all circumstances that may come our way. Help us remember that the immeasurable, everlasting love you have for us will see us through.

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